Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 50 minutes
Yield: Serves 4 to 6
1 1/2 pounds (24 ounces) prepared frozen cheese tortellini
12 ounces cremini or white button mushrooms, roughly chopped or sliced into 1/4-inch slices
1 Tbsp butter
3 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 Tbsp)
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 large bunch swiss chard, ribs removed, leaves chopped (about 2 cups) OR 2 cups fresh chopped spinach OR 1/2 cup frozen spinach
1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil or 1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh basil
1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 to 6 ounces Mozzarella cheese slices, enough to cover the surface of the casserole
1 Heat a large pot with 3 quarts of water and 1 1/2 tablespoons of salt on high heat. When the water starts to boil, add the tortellini. Once the water returns to a boil, cook for an additional 2 minutes. You want the pasta cooked al dente because it will continue to cook when baked in the casserole. Remove from heat and drain. Set aside.
2 While you are preparing the pasta, start on the sauce. Heat a large thick bottomed stick-free (hard anodized aluminum or cast iron are best) pan on medium heat. Add the mushrooms. "Dry" sauté them for 5 to 10 minutes with no added fat. As the mushrooms heat they will release water and cook in their own juices. Once the mushrooms are well coated with the water that they are releasing, stir in a tablespoon of butter.
3 Add the garlic, crushed fennel seeds, and red pepper flakes to the mushrooms and cook a minute more. Add the crushed tomatoes and the dried or fresh basil. Increase the heat to bring to a simmer, then lower the heat to maintain a low simmer for 5 minutes. Add the chopped chard and cook for 5 more minutes until the chard begins to wilt. Stir in the grated Parmesan cheese. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt (more or less to taste).
4 Pre-heat oven to 400°F. Stir the cooked tortellini into the sauce and remove from heat. Spread the tortellini mixture into a 9x13 casserole dish in an even layer. Arrange a layer of sliced Mozzarella cheese over the top of the tortellinis.
5 Cover with foil. (Either cover the casserole in a way that the foil is not touching the cheese or spread a little olive oil over the inside of the foil so that the casserole cheese does not stick to the foil while it cooks. You can also use stick-free foil.) Bake at 400°F for 20 minutes. Remove foil and broil for 4 to 5 minutes more until top is lightly browned and bubbly.